"Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets." Nido Qubein

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone elses plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." Jim Rohn

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Life Change

I have experienced so many changes in the last 7 months.  2013 has been an interesting year.  My X husband, Johnny Seidel, passed away.  We had continued to see each other off and on over the last 10 years, but were on an off period.  It was a terrible shock when I got the phone call that he had passed away.  If anything it made my determination to move to Costa Rica even stronger.  I do not want to dream... I want to do!

I did change my plans as far as renting my house out.  Instead I decided to sell my house and moved back to my old home town, Greenville.  The pace of life is slower here and the cost of living is less.  Just another step in the right direction.

It's interesting when I start connecting the dots of my path.  After my divorce I moved to Oak Cliff in Dallas.  It is an area that is not as upscale and citified as my entire life has been up until then.  I went from having Central Market and Neiman Marcus in my back yard, to having small not so great grocery stores and having to drive about 10 miles to reach anything upscale.  This was the first step in getting used to slimming down my options.  Now I've moved to Greenville where life is slower paced and there is practically no good shopping at all.  If I want a good grocery store, ie Central Market, I have to drive back to Dallas.  All these changes are getting me ready for Costa Rica!  Puriscal is a very small town and my life style will change.  It would have been quite the culture shock if I had not started changing my lifestyle seven years ago.  Of course, at the time I did not realize where my life was going.  Connecting the dots is so exciting!  God has had a hand on my life for a very long time. 

I am so excited.  My plan is still to move there in 3 years once I am able to collect social security.  But the life style change is going to be easy for me now.

Make your plan, trust God, and work that plan!

Pura Vida!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Question- Bring or Not to Bring Furniture

I've been debating, bring my furniture or not to bring my furniture.  I have antiques and paintings that I really love.  I've spent my adult life slowly finding my personal tastes and purchasing the things I love along the way.

When I visited Costa Rica this summer, George Lundquist, took us to Sarchi as part of his tour where the local craftsmen and furniture makers have sold their products for the past 100 years.  There are about 70 family owned workshops, or "talleres" with showrooms along the main road.  Many were in little shack like buildings, but with the most amazing and beautiful handmade hardwood furniture I've ever seen.  Most of the wood is plantation grown or sustainable tropical hardwoods like cenizaro, guanacaste, melina, and cedar.

These artisans make bedroom sets, dining room, sofas, chairs, dressers, entertainment units, desks, outdoor furniture, swings, baby furniture, and anything else you can imagine.  They can recreate a family heirloom or anything you can describe or sketch out for them.  You can usually get these custom made pieces for the same price as ready-made items.

Six seater dining tables ran anywhere from $300 to $700.  Compare that to $1,500 at regular furniture store here that was most likely made in China.

I saw new beautiful carved queen sized beds from $400 to $600 with matching bedside tables for an additional $150.  You could not touch it in the states for under $1,300.  Entertainment unit with the space for a TV at $400.

Since I have personally seen the furniture I know what amazing quality is available.  Plus remember, these are made with hardwoods.

I have options!  I'm thinking I need to find someone else moving at the same time that I could share a moving container with.  I still want to bring some of my things, but I do not need them all.  To bring a full container costs anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the size of the container.  I have some thinking to do!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Setting Goals to Get to Paradise

It is amazing what you can accomplish when your heart and soul are involved.  Moving to Costa Rica is what I want most in my life.  I want it because, on the practical side, I cannot afford to ever retire in the US, and I fell in love with the country.  The climate, the views, the people, the vegetation, the color of Costa Rica, and the monkeys feel like they are already part of me.

Do you believe in predestination? There has always been a wanderer in me.  My parents had to lock the house down and build a fence around the yard when I was only two years old because I wanted to explore all my surroundings.  At three the police were involved because I took off on my tricycle to explore my neighborhood.  I can remember being taken into a house by a family's maid when she saw me out in the weather just having a great 'ole time.  That desire to see the world with no fear has never left me.

Costa Rica has everything.  Waterfalls, mountains, volcanos, rain forests, beaches, amazing animals and birds, perfect temperatures year round, rivers, and views that go forever. 

I live in a very crowded and busy city.  I am in high gear everyday, but as social as I can be, I prefer solitude and harmony.  I am looking so forward to living in a quite area without someone right up against me.  I am looking forward to the smell of rain and sweet air rather than exhaust and pollution.  I am looking forward to seeing miles and miles of beauty rather than the houses right across the street blocking the view of my world.  I am looking forward to the quiet.  When I was in CR outside of the city I could not believe the peace the quite brought.  I did not even recognize the noise in my life until I realized the lack of it when I was there.

I've told some friends I will be moving into my 460 sq. foot garage apartment, and they cannot believe I am going to do this and live without all my beautiful things (they will be in storage).  I am so happy and excited to do this because it is exactly this that will get me to CR sooner.  Renting out my house will enable me to save almost every penny I make then at the end of the two years I'll sell my house and add the profit to those savings.  Not only will this move take the financial stress that I live under now off me it achieves my goal.  I will be one very happy little lady living there making my plans to move to paradise.

Pura Vida

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why Live In Costa Rica

This is a really good article from International Living Magazine on living in Costa Rica.  I am still patiently working my way there!  Will have my house ready to rent out in January and will move into the apartment above my garage and count the days to moving day.
Why Convenient Costa Rica Still Makes So Much Sense
By Jennifer Stevens
It’s like a grab bag at a candy store—coastal drama, rainforests, spring-weather valleys…this place costs less than Cleveland…and things just work here.” That was my assessment of Costa Rica in 1998.
That trip felt like a reward. I’d been nosing out “new” destinations in places like Nicaragua and Panama—“early-in finds” that would be attractive to pioneering retirees. But such places can lack certain “comforts.” (Like the hotel where you had to hold two wires together in the shower to turn the lights on. Don’t worry: I didn’t recommend it to readers.)
Costa Rica was a different story—even back then. It was much further along on that “continuum of development” as I think of it. The infrastructure was solid. Airplanes took off and landed on schedule. And because an expat population was already well-established two decades ago, life in Costa Rica was convenient…and it still is.
As Jason Holland reports from the Central Valley (p. 18 of the current issue of International Living magazine), you can find everything from waffles at a breakfast joint to a memory card for a camera. Of course, convenience alone is no reason to retire somewhere. In truth, you won’t find anywhere as convenient as the U.S.
Costa Rica makes sense today because—beyond the conveniences—it offers you broad choice in locale and lifestyle. It’s safe. The healthcare is top tier. Yet you still find excellent values—a week’s worth of fresh produce for less than $30…rent on a home with a mountain view, $500…a couple’s health insurance, $600 a year.
If you’re ready to dip your toe overseas, Costa Rica remains one of the easiest, most rewarding places to do it. As proof, we bring you stories of expats there enjoying the lack of stress (p. 12)…running fishing charters (p. 24)…brewing beer (p. 25). As one couple says, “It’s a pretty liberating feeling knowing you can afford to live your dream.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keeping My Eye On The Prize

Now that I have decided to rent my house out and move into my garage apartment I've gotten busy!  I had the outside of my house painted this week, including the stairs to the garage apartment, and it has my house looking like new!  Next week my wood fence will be stained.

I've been collecting boxes at work.  I am going to start packing things that I rarely use.  I've also started listing things for sale on Ebay!

I know now I will not be able to finish the house and move everything into storage until the end of December or the beginning of January.  It is so hard to be patient.  I want to do everything at one time, but finances are just not there for that.  It will also be nice to spend one more Christmas in my house.  I can tell you I will not be sad to move into the apartment even though it is only 469 Sq. Ft.  Just knowing what I will be able to save and knowing how much faster it will move me towards my goal of getting to Costa Rica will make every day a joy!

I am reading an E-book about a man who moved from California to Costa Rica about 10 years ago.  From his experiences and from what my friends who are already there is teaching me is that patience is not just a virtue it is necessary to save your sanity!!!!  It's funny that patience has always been a problem for me and one of the things I have fought the hardest with is going to be the thing I will need the most for the rest of my life!  God has such a crazy since of humor!

Pura Vida

Monday, July 23, 2012

Costa Rica Interest Rate

My friends, Paul and Gloria, are the authors of www.retireforlessincostarica.com .  This is from their last post.  It certainly caught my attention.  I only wish I could take advantage of it! 

From 11.75% to 12.5% Interest on a 12-Month Certificate of Deposit!
We wanted to inform all of our interested readers that our bank, Coopenae, has just raised interest rates to 12.5% on a 12 month Certificate of Deposit. As luck would have it, our initial 12-month CD at 11.75% came to maturity in late June, just after the rate was increased, and we were able to roll it over at 12.5%. Boy are we happy!  

Just so you know, this is a colones account. The dollar accounts pay 3% on a 12 month CD. We got our CD last June 25th and we converted our dollars to colones at 502 colones/dollar. Presently, the dollar is 497 colones, so our earnings are even more significant, though we don’t pay much attention to the exchange rate since we live in colones.  

The sad news is that one must be a legal resident to be a CD investor in Costa Rica. All legal residents also now have DIMEX on their residency cards (cedulas). Click here to read our article that explains DIMEX.  

They posted this update today... Earlier in the week, the Costa Rican government decided to delay the implementation of DIMEX until October 1, 2012. After we published our newsletter, Coopenae contacted us with some good news. There is a window of opportunity until October 1st for people in the process of getting their legal Residency to invest in CDs at Coopenae.  

For me, just another reason to retire in Costa Rica!  

Pura Vida

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Better Idea

All righty then....After all that thought and figuring I've come up with another way.

My goal is to cut down on my living expenses so I can save money to be able to go to Costa Rica with as much of an emergency fund as I can.  After looking at things from right side up I decided to look from upside down. 

I have a full one bedroom apartment over my garage.  I've come to the conclusion that it will benefit me more to move into the apartment and rent my house out.  This gives the real estate market a little more time to go back up, so when I sell I can get more for my home.  I will still have to put the bulk of my furniture etc in storage, but it gives me a FREE place to live while my renters will be paying my mortgage and most likely the storage, so I will be able to save the amount I normally pay each month!

I have plumbers coming out tomorrow morning to fix the toilet in the apartment and put a new faucet on the kitchen sink.  A tiny few more touches and it's ready for me to move in.  On my house I still need to have the trim outside painted, and may have to paint some of the walls inside to help rent it faster.  I love bright colors, but a renter might not like my yellow walls.

I am in an artsy part of Dallas right across the river from Downtown.   The houses I've seen go up for rent in my neighborhood have rented quickly.

I have my eyes on the prize, and I think this is the best answer to get me there.

Pura Vida...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back To Working My Plan

I've run the numbers and run the numbers, and I still come up with the same answer.  For the same reason I will never be able to retire in the US, I now must sell my house in order to save for retirement.

I do love my house, but I do not mind selling it with the end game in my sights.  The plan I must work is to sell my house, either move in with my parents or an efficiency apartment, put my furniture in storage and save every thing I have left after the smallest of living expenses.  With any profit from the sale of my home and savings, I should be able to move to Costa Rica by the time I retire.

I am actively working towards listing my house.  Two weekends ago I cleaned out all my closets and cabinets and put every thing in the garage (for a garage sale) that I have not touched in the last year.  I have listed several things on Ebay that I will never use again but are too nice to sell in a garage sale.

This past weekend I washed all 20 windows in my house inside and out and the 4 doors and storm doors.    Now I have  items at my house that will need to be repaired and painted.  There are 2 painters coming out this week to give me quotes.  I will have to do some of the repairs a little slower as money permits.  My goal is to have it on the market in 2-3 months tops.

I put this quote at the top of my blog last week.  It inspired me to move steadily towards my future.  "Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action." Napoleon Hill

Pura Vida...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Costa Rica No. 1 - The Happiest Place On The Planet

I did not need a report to tell me this, but Costa Rica was named "The Happiest Place on the Planet" for the 2nd time by the Happy Planet Index, the leading global measure of sustainable well-being.  The United States ranked 105.

The HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this.  The index is an efficiency measure that ranks countries on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental input.  The 2012 HPI report ranked 151 countries.

If you would like to read the entire report go to  http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

Rank Country HPI Experienced
1  Costa Rica 64.0 7.3 79.3 2.5
2  Vietnam 60.4 5.8 75.2 1.4
3  Colombia 59.8 6.4 73.7 1.8
4  Belize 59.3 6.5 76.1 2.1
5  El Salvador 58.9 6.7 72.2 2.0
6  Jamaica 58.5 6.2 73.1 1.7
7  Panama 57.8 7.3 76.1 3.0
8  Nicaragua 57.1 5.7 74.0 1.6
9  Venezuela 56.9 7.5 74.4 3.0
10  Guatemala 56.9 6.3 71.2 1.8

Pura Vida...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day Tours

Before we went on George's Retirement Tour we took a couple of day tours with Gray Line Tours.

The first was Gray Line's "Sarapiqui and Canopy Day Tour".  I have a mixed review on this one, but could not recommend it.  With that said...the tour bus was very nice and clean.  The driver was excellent, and we never felt uncomfortable on the narrow winding roads.  Not even when we got stuck behind an entire herd of cows being moved right down the middle of the road from one pasture to another!  The boat ride up the Sarapiqui River was a little over an hour and never boring.  Happily we were entertained by our tour guide who knew every inch of the river.  We saw crocodiles, red toucans, holler monkeys, a huge iguana on a limb hanging over the water, and all sorts of birds.  The boat took us to the place we would have lunch (that turned into dinner) and do the zip lining.  This is the part I would never recommend to anyone.  Yes, the zip lining itself was fun, but getting from platform to platform was a nightmare.  You did not simply zip line from platform to platform like other zip lines in Costa Rica.  This one had 10', 20', and 30' ladders you had to climb to get to the next platform.  The zip line is in the Rain Forest, but you are at a low sea level and there is no air movement and hot as hell.  They had no water on any of the 11 platforms, and many people were very weak, shaky, and over heated when we were finished.  They then served the food which was hard to enjoy after the exhausting zip line climbs.  After dinner we were back on the boat, down the Sarapiqui River, to the bus for the 1 1/2 hour ride back to San Jose.

The second day tour was the "San Jose City Explorer Day Tour".  This was fantastic!  I wish I knew our guides name.  She was wonderful.  She had to speak to the group in English and Spanish.  She was very knowledgeable, personable, and kept it moving.  We were driven in a very nice tour van all around the city as she taught us about the history of San Jose and took us to the Gold Museum and The National Theater.  Both were interesting and the theater was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.  We were then treated to a delicious lunch in a wonderful restaurant.  Our guide then surprised us with a trip to an Emerald and Diamond store which was tucked in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  They had copies of the ancient gold jewelry that was in the museum.  And yes, we did treat ourselves to a few pieces.  We were then returned to our pick up locations in San Jose.  A very entertaining and interesting tour.

Pura Vida...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Passport and Visa Requirements

The requirements to enter Costa Rica depend on your country of nationality.  Generally, citizens of the United States, Canada and the European Union countries do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica.  Those citizens can enter Costa Rica with their valid passport and remain in the country for up to a maximum of 90 days.

Visa renewal.  If you are under the 30 or 60 day category then the law allows you to apply for an extension of up to 90 days.   If you have a 90 day visa the law does not allow you to apply for an extension in Costa Rica you must leave the country and re-enter to obtain another tourist visa.

The amount of time that a Tourist can remain in Costa Rica is based upon their country of origin.  Costa Rica ranks countries for visa purposes into 4 categories set forth below:

GROUP ONE:   Those countries designated as Group One may enter Costa Rica without an entry Visa and may remain in Costa Rica for up to 90 days. Example: United States Canada, European Union, Australia, Brasil,

GROUP TWO : Citizens of Group Two countries may enter Costa Rica without an entry Visa and may remain in Costa Rica for up to 30 days.  Example: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela

GROUP THREE:  If you are a citizen of a Group Three country you need to obtain an entry VISA from a Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate abroad before you enter Costa Rica.  If granted it is for a period of 30 days.  Example: Colombia, Ecuador, India, Nicaragua, Peru

GROUP FOUR :  This is the most restrictive category.  This means that citizens of Category Three Countries must have an entry visa BEFORE they are allowed to enter Costa Rica.  The visa must be reviewed by the Director of Immigration before it can be granted.   If granted the visa is for a period of 30 days.  Example:  Cuba, Jamaica, China, Iran, Iraq.
You can download the current visa list by clicking on the following link:   Circular DG-3312- Visa Entry Requirement List

Your Passport Entry Stamp:   While you are in Costa Rica your passport and the immigration stamp that was placed in it when you entered the country is your proof of legal status.  The Immigration Department allows you to carry a copy of your passport with the entry stamp so that you can keep your passport in a safe place.

Be sure and check these rules at the time you want to visit Costa Rica.  They can change at any time.

Pura Vida... 

Residency Types and Income Requirements

In 2010 the residency requirements changed in Costa Rica.  The three types are Pensioner, Renter, and Resident Investor.

Pensioner Resident is required to show a verifiable minimum monthly pension of $1,000 US.  The pension must be guaranteed for life.  Only Social Security pensions, or similar, are permitted.  No other kind of income will satisfy this requirement as it has to be a life time beneficiary to secure not less than $1,000, and petitioner should have to demonstrate that the issuance company has the ability to secure this monthly income for life.  You can do this by certified copies of the financial status of the company. Expires every 2 years.

Renter Resident is required to have a verifiable monthly income for at least 5 years for no less than $2,500 US per family.  You can qualify with this requisite if you have a deposit in the bank for no less than 5 years that generates no less than $2,500 a month, or you must make a deposit in a Costa Rican bank that generates this sum of money being $150,000.00 US.  Expires every 2 years.

No matter if you apply for a Pensioner or Renter the money you bring into the country to meet the requirements of the status must be converted into colones.  Once you converted these monies into colones the Costa Rican government does not require you show them what you do with it.  Once the money is into colones, you can use this money to pay for your living expenses  etc.  If you do not want to use colones you can reconvert them back to dollars.

The third type of residency if called Resident Investor.  To qualify for this you must make a one-time minimum investment of at least $200,000.00 US.  You must demonstrate that your investments are duly listed for a minimum amount of $200,000 US with the correspondent office and that you pay taxes on it.  If you sell or loose your investment you will no longer be able to renew your residency document.

Your fourth option, being a US Citizen, is to stay in the allowed 90 day period, exit the country, have your passport stamped and re-enter the country for another 90 days. A day trip to Panama is a great way to meet your requirement and spend a fun day.

These laws can change at any time.  You would need to check the requirements coming from the country you are in at the time you choose to leave.

Pura Vida...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Trip

My daughter and I are back from our vacation and fact finding mission to Costa Rica.  It was everything I hoped it would be.

I am convinced it is the place I want to live.  The year round temperature, the views, the Ticos, the fresh foods, the slower pace of life, much better cost of living, and the wonderful Expats that are there.

I found that I prefer living at the 3,000-3,500 feet above sea level.  The temperature stays right around 70 degrees year round.  I visited San Jose, Sarchi, Alajuela, San Ramon, Grecia, Escazu, Santiago De Puriscal, and Atenas.  We also went to the beach in Puntarenas on the Gulf of Nacoya and down the Sarapiqui River in the Rain Forest.  I was in about every level and atmosphere.  I can tell you 2,800 and under was too hot and humid for me.

I can absolutely recommend Margarita's Bed and Breakfast in Alajuela just on the outskirts of San Jose.  The property was beautiful, the rooms darling and very clean and up to date, and Margarita was the perfect hostess!  You will pay for a cab to go back into San Jose for any tours or sight seeing, but it is worth it to stay in such a magical location.  You can even see the Paos Volcano from her property.

George's tour could not have been better in any way.  When you are finished you have a world of information to help you make your decision as to where, when, or if you want to live in Costa Rica.  He took us to a furniture factory to show us what you can get for your money there instead of paying to ship your own.  We attended 2 parties where Expats came and talked to us about why they had chosen to move to CR and their experiences.  He took us to a hospital to teach us about the medical system in CR and about medical insurance.  We sat down with an attorney who taught us all about becoming a legal in CR and how to purchase property there.  He included all the pros and cons so we can make a very informed decision.  George took us to many different kinds of properties to get a base line on living in different towns, and purchasing as compared to renting.  It was invaluable and I cannot recommend his tour enough to everyone who is wanting to get information on CR.

In the end not only am I convinced it is the place for me, but my 28 year old daughter fell in love with it.  I think we may both be living there!

We met a wonderful American couple, Paul and Gloria Yeatman, that live just outside of San Ramon.  They are very active with a group of Americans that are giving back to the citizens of Costa Rica.  Sign up and follow their great blog.  http://retireforlessincostarica.com/2012/06/newsletter-may-june-2012/ 

In my next blog I will include some of the legal information shared with us by the attorney we met with.  I will also be giving you information on some of the side tours we went on.

Pura Vida is now my new sign off on all my letters and blog.  Everyone in CR says Pura Vida (pure life) instead of hello or good bye, and just as a passing greeting.  They are the happiest people on the earth!

Pura Vida.....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Excited

Time is getting closer.  I have started looking at tours for after we have finished George's Retirement Tour.  I called the Bed and Breakfast we will be staying at, and they told me to just wait until I get there to make my plans!  Talk about laid back.  George has warned me things are very different there.  He said no one is in a hurry, and now I believe him.

I found a company in San Jose that has every kind of tour you could want.  We are going to take the one day tour called  Sarapiquí River Adventure and Canopy Zip Lining.  We are also looking at a tour to the Poals Volcano, and of course to the Mediterranean beach!  I'm not much of a shopper, but you know we'll have to indulge some.

I have just ordered a new book on retiring in Costa Rica, Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving To Costa Rica, and Living The Zero Hour Work Week by Nadine Hayes Pisani.  I cannot wait to read it.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Social Security History and Today

Over 50 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.  Nearly 9 out of 10 are at least 65 years of age.  Those of us who fall in this range are being asked to cover the deficit passed to us by the politicians of the 1960's and find a way to fund our retirement years without becoming a burden to future generations.

According to Scott Rasmussen, our biggest challenge is to get the Political Class to follow the lead of the American people.  Social Security, after 80 years, still remains the most lasting and popular legacy of FDR's New Deal.  Sixty Four percent of voters nationwide still view it favorably.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt explained he set up Social Security benefits the way he did by saying, "We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits.  With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program."  It should also be noted he envisioned a program that would grow to include a combination of "compulsory contributions," supplemented by voluntary contributions made in exchange for increased benefits. 

By a three-to-one margin, American people believe that no matter how bad something is Congress can always make it worse.  With that mind set, protecting an unsustainable status quo is less risky for voters than trusting congressional reform.  Even if Congress crafted the perfect reform plan, and even if voters loved what they heard, popular support would be withheld because voters don't trust Congress. 

Accordingly, 64 percent of Americans believe that any proposed change to Social Security should be submitted to a vote of the people before it could be implemented. For more than seventy-five years, Social Security has been presented to voters as a contract between government and individual American Workers. To change a contract lawfully requires approval from both parties. If the government wants to change the contract, it should be required to get approval from those on the other side of the bargain.  With the final product being submitted to a vote of American people, the process would be protected from political gamesmanship.

When the program began only 2 percent of an employee's income was paid into the system.  The figure has risen to 12.4 percent today, a total paid half by the employee and half by the employer in to what is euphemistically called "contributions" in exchange for a promise of future benefits.  To pay all current promised benefits, Social Security trustees estimate the taxes will have to be raised to just over 14.6 percent. 

The problem is how to achieve this.  Most Democrats say all that's needed is one more Social Security tax hike and the problem can be solved.  Most Republicans say that the promised benefits need to be cut either by raising the retirement age or reducing the growth of future benefits.  A few on each side would like to go further.  Some on the left would like to see taxes raised even more than is needed to make the system solvent.  They want benefits for retirees to go up even higher.  On the right, many advocate privatization of the program so that individuals can opt out of Social Security.  Neither of these ideas are popular with voters.  According to Rasmussen, 34 percent of voters say the retirement age should be raised for future generations, 30 percent say taxes should be raised, and 15 percent want benefits to be cut.  However, just about everyone agrees that something needs to be done.

The shame of this whole problem is that it did not have to happen.  During the 1960s, when economic growth was strong and the retirement program was young, politicians missed an opportunity to address the shortfall caused by the first generation of Social Security recipients.  (The first recipient was Ida May Fuller who paid a total of $24.75 into the system and received a total of $22,888.92 in benefits)  Deceptive accounting practices were implemented by President Lyndon Johnson making it easier for those who wanted to provide short-term benefit hikes while ignoring long-term costs.  This accounting trick also helped President Richard Nixon's reelection in 1972 when he announced he had "signed legislation which constitutes a major breakthrough for older Americans, for it says at last that inflation proof Social Security benefits are theirs as a matter of right."  As we now know that was not the fact.  According to government documents, the Social Security trust fund has a long-term deficit of $17.9 trillion.  They claim the trust fund has enough reserves to keep paying benefits in full until 2036.

Sixty-five percent of voters believe individuals should have the right to select their own retirement age.  Only 23 percent disagree.  Over the long term, people choosing later retirement ages could cut the cost of Social Security nearly in half.   It is an acknowledgement that one-size-fits-all solutions don't make sense in a society as big and diverse as that of the United States. 

Statistically, most Americans support FDR's concept of setting aside money during the working years to earn benefits during retirement years.  With that said, most are not happy with the current mix of taxes and benefits.  Everyone is looking for a better way to make Social Security beneficial for today's worker.  Many, including 53 percent of seniors, believe by freeing people to make their own choices, the long-term cost of social security benefits will be reduced far more than anybody in Congress would dare propose.  On top of that, it would be accomplished with the consent of the governed and in a manner that improves everyone's confidence in Social Security.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Here We Come

I finally made my reservations and will be on my way to Costa Rica with my youngest daughter in the late spring.  I am looking so forward to my tour with George and learning everything I can about retiring there.

On the subject of retiring, I'm sure I will not be completely retiring.  The money is just not there, but I have time to find something I can do from Costa Rica to supplement my social security.

I found the most wonderful Bed and Breakfast that we will be staying in.  The views from their location are beautiful, and the rooms and patios are flooded with the flavor of Costa Rica.  This is the link to Margarita's Airport B&B. http://airport-san-jose.bed-and-breakfast.cr/airport.html?bbcom

I am still in the process of looking at different things to do while we are there.  Zip Lining is at the top of the list along with spending a beach day on the Caribbean side.   They have miles of zip lining tours over the canopy of the rain forests and jungles.  I am scared of heights, but I know I will be so mad at myself if I miss this great opportunity.  My 85 year old mother did it last year, so I guess I can!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Small World

Talk about a small world.  I have been emailing back and forth with my cousin.  I told him I was going to Costa Rica and would be on a retirement tour.  He emailed me back and said, "Not George Lundquist?  My wife and I have been thinking about going there and taking his tour."  I was so excited.  The word is every where about George's tour.  Also, as it turns out his brother, my cousin, had gone to Costa Rica and visited with George, but not actually taken the tour.  Maybe there will be a whole colony of us living in Costa Rica!

The Costa Rican Government is very careful to protect it's citizens ability to earn a living.  Anyone can move to Costa Rica, but no one that is not a citizen can work for a company there.  They do not want people moving in and taking jobs away for their citizens.  You can however open your own business.  George opened his retirement tour business there.  For this reason, I am taking the online English teaching course by TESOL Express, so I can tutor to make extra money.  If I can find a need when I get there that matches skills I have I'd love to start a business.  I have owned 2 of my own businesses in my life time, so it would not be something completely new for me. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

English Course

I started my English teaching class.  It's wonderful and very different than what I thought it was going to be.  The first section deals with how to work with students that do not speak English, therefore not really understanding much of what you are saying.  So many things I never considered.

The course is teaching such things as hand gestures to signal what you are saying.  Using the board to put examples in pictures of what you are talking about.  Words not to use.   Shorten your sentences using as little words as possible.  Cutting down on your adverbs and adjectives.  It will be very different from teaching children that already speak the language.

I have learned one lesson...do not try to study a lesson and take the test at work.  I failed my first test!  Not a good start, plus I am a personality that hates to make mistakes.  Especially when I consider them stupid mistakes.

This process really is empowering.  We are all going to need or want to stop working one day and be able to enjoy the rest of our lives.  If we do not start planning and working our plan it will never happen.  I have my 2-3 year plan and feel great seeing it already starting.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Continuing to Map It

Not so fast....Would you believe after 3 phone calls and 5 different departments my savings account just went on line today!  Something that should have been so simple took two weeks.

I am continuing to move forward.  Today I signed up for a 120 hour course to become certified to teach and tutor English.  This course specializes in teaching non English speaking students.   English is a required course in Costa Rica.  Hopefully when I get there I will be able to find people to tutor.  I'd particularly like to tutor adults who need to become more proficient for their business careers.  The English language and perfect grammar have always been important to me.  Ask my children.  I nearly drove them crazy correcting their speech.  Today they thank me!

My travel agent is still looking for a great deal on flight tickets for Meleese and me.    We are looking so forward to getting to Costa Rica and taking George's retirement tour.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Moving Forward

I am continuing to move forward on my plans. 

Have you ever opened your savings account on line?  Not as easy as it sounds.  I went into my checking account and did all the paperwork on the site for my savings account.  Next they say they will withdraw two small amounts and email you when it is done to first make sure it is you who is pulling the money.  They did the 2 small withdrawals but never emailed.  Still have not emailed me about it.  I did find it by checking back on my account. 

Next I OK'd the amounts.  Then it took another 3 days before they actually withdrew the full amount to open the savings account.  This took a total of one week to "electronically" move my money from one location to the new one!  I thought doing things on line were supposed to be faster.  Not so.

I am watching for a good deal on air tickets to go down in May and take George's tour.

Everyday I watch the news about what is going on in Washington, and everyday it makes me even more sure I want to get out of here while I still can.  An added motivation!